Category Archives: Security

Migration to Windows 10

You’re prepared, at least mentally, to begin your migration to Windows 10 because you’ve read What Does Windows 7 End of Life Mean to My Business?  and Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life. Is your hardware ready, though? How you handle your IT (on your own, as needed support, or with a fully managed agreement) will change how you will have to deal with your transition.  The following items should help you decide how to prepare your hardware for the Windows 10 migration. Do It Yourself If you own all of your own equipment and deal with IT issues in-house, then you will want to get started on migrating your devices now. The good news is that Windows 10 is highly compatible withRead Full Article


Getting Ahead of Windows 7 End of Life

With Windows 7 end of life quickly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about what needs to be done to prepare. Technically, regular Windows 7 support has been dead since 2015, however, the extended support period is over January 2020, which means no more updates or security patches. What should you be aware of for EOL? Get ready, you may have some work to do. Many are concerned that their PCs will stop working. That is not the case. Your Windows software will work, but its security will depreciate rather quickly, which could put your PC in danger of cyber-attacks and viruses. Back in 2014, Microsoft ended support for Windows XP. It affected 40% of computers worldwide. Now, years later, it is estimated that aboutRead Full Article


What does Windows 7 End of Life Mean for My Business?

You’ve all heard the panic. Windows is cutting off support for its widely popular version 7 software. January 14, 2020 will officially mark Windows 7 End of Life. Many companies have used Windows 7 since it launched in 2009 and are still actively using it today. So, what’s the big deal? Can you just stick with Windows 7 or will your computer self-destruct? The good news is that your computers will work just fine after the End of Life (EOL) date. However, just because your computer will function doesn’t mean it’s wise to hold onto outdated software. The largest concern for Windows 7 users is security. Since updates and support will no longer be available, your device will be extremely vulnerable to cyber threats. InRead Full Article


Cyber-Crime and Security for SMBs

Did you know the illicit trading of personal data was worth $3.88 billion last year? Cyber-crime is a growing industry known for its innovation. It goes far beyond the image many of us have of some hacker kid in his basement. Many who engage in this activity are professionals and work in large teams. Some may even be sponsored by governments. If you follow the news, you can find large corporations and even government agencies who have fallen prey to hackers and had massive amounts of data compromised. Unfortunately, this has led smaller firms to feel they fly below the radar. In fact, the opposite is true. Small businesses–especially those in regulated areas such as medical, financial, and legal services–need to be hyper vigilant aboutRead Full Article


Computer Hackers 101

Most people are aware of terms like phishing and malware, but do you know those are a part of a larger scheme called social engineering? This is not a new kind of fraud, in fact it’s been used for many years to manipulate a wide range of people into giving up important data about themselves or workplace. A prime example of social engineering goes back to Greek mythology with the Trojan horse. They infiltrated the city of Troy with a “peace offering” filled with soldiers, thus winning the war. With technology at the forefront of our lives, social engineering has entered a new era. Physical human interaction is not necessarily required anymore. Cyber-criminals, better known as computer hackers, can gain information through emails, pop-ups andRead Full Article


Mischievous Malware

Unfortunately, malware is not a foreign term, in fact it’s pretty well known to anyone who uses a computer. There are several types of malware, as well as mediums in which you may receive it. So, before you click on that link for the free cruise you won, think about all of the personal data you could be giving away. First, let’s take a quick tour of the types of malware you may run into. Viruses: These act very similar to the flu virus. Once it gets into a computer, it propagates by copying itself and becoming part of another program. Then just like the flu at an elementary school, it spreads from computer to computer. However, a virus must be activated, by opening orRead Full Article


Phishing 101

Phishing 101 While the number of people falling for sending personal information to the crown prince of Nigeria in hopes of receiving his promised wealth and riches seems to be dropping, phishing remains a major issue. In fact, the number of phishing campaigns pursued by hackers around the world increased 65% in the last year. What exactly is phishing? Hackers mimic the emails, forms, and websites of legitimate companies in an effort to lure people into providing their private, personal information, like credit cards numbers, social security information, account logins, and personal identifiers. The victim typically doesn’t realize they’ve been compromised until long after the event, and oftentimes only after their identify or finances are affected. In the past, an attack was carried out relatively quickly.Read Full Article


Cyber Crime Tips for Local Businesses

Did you know the illicit trading of personal data was worth $3.88 billion last year? Cyber Crime is a growing industry known for its innovation. It goes far beyond the image many of us have of some hacker kid in his basement. Many who engage in this activity are professionals and work in large teams. Some may even be sponsored by governments. If you follow the news, you can find large corporations and even government agencies that have fallen prey to hackers and had massive amounts of data compromised. Unfortunately, this has led smaller firms to feel they fly below the radar. In fact, the opposite is true. Small businesses–especially those in regulated areas such as medical, financial, and legal services–need to be hyper vigilantRead Full Article


Data Security and Government Regulations

  Any business that stores customer payment information must comply with a number of state and federal regulations. The legal, healthcare, and financial sectors have a number of laws tailored specifically for them (such as HIPAA or CISPA). If you run almost any kind of professional practice or agency you probably have very specific data security requirements. Running afoul of these regulations puts you at risk for legal action and probably means that you have bad security in place. As a professional, your focus needs to be on your clients and running your firm. Regulatory requirements to ensure data security can be complex and include rigorous testing requirements. Ensuring compliance with the regulations can be a serious distraction for you and take you into territoryRead Full Article


Passwords: Basics People Still Ignore

You can have all the locks on your data center and have all the network security available, but nothing will keep your data safe if your employees are careless with passwords. Here are some tips to help you and your employees, since human error is one of the top reasons for IT disaster recovery. Change Passwords – Most security experts recommend that companies change out all passwords every 30 to 90 days. Require passwords that mix upper and lowercase, and include a number and a symbol. Teach employees NOT to use standard dictionary words ( in any language), or personal data that can be known, or can be stolen: addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, birthdays, etc. Emphasize that employees should not access anything usingRead Full Article


Creating a Strong Password

How strong is your password? Did you know that having a weak password is one of the biggest security risks you face? This blog focuses on the best practices related that you can follow to ensure passwords are not your weakest link. A recent article states that 81% of data breaches are caused by poor passwords! Avoid sequences and repetitions: How many times have you used passwords like dollar12345 or $$$BobMckinley. Passwords containing sequences and repetitions are just easier to hack. Avoid using your personal data: Do not make your birth date, bank account number, or address a part of your password. It puts your data at stake if your personal information is stolen. Don’t repeat passwords: Make sure you pick unique passwords every time.Read Full Article


IT Managed Service for SMBs

 Understanding Managed IT Services and How They Benefit SMBs   No doubt you’ve heard, or you’ve at least read about, the benefits of managed services as it relates to maintaining your technology. Managed services refer to clearly defined outsourced IT services delivered to you at predictable costs. You know the exact IT services you’ll be getting and what you’ll pay for them. There is no surprise sky-high bill for services rendered.    How Managed Service Providers Work   Managed service providers (MSPs) use remote monitoring and management tools to keep an eye on the performance and overall health of the IT infrastructure that powers your business operations. Your MSP should provide 24/7 remote monitoring, which will alert them to any issue with your servers, devices, hardwareRead Full Article


Managed IT Services for Your Business

We understand that business owners aren’t always sure that managed IT services are right for their business. So, they rely on calling their “computer guy” only when things go wrong. We’ve provided some questions to consider so that you can better understand why managed IT services provide a much more stable and secure computer network for businesses of all sizes. Plainly put, you can save money and still get top level IT services from a managed services provider such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.    Is my business large enough to even consider managed services?   The truth is, any company, regardless of its size or the number of people employed, will run more efficiently if its technology is monitored, maintained, and managed properly. These are facets ofRead Full Article


Breaking News: Downtime Kills Small Businesses

Downtime is bad news for any business whether big or small. A recent two-hour New York Times’ downtime occurrence sent Twitter ablaze and their stock price plummeting. Google going down for one to five hours resulted in lost revenue up to $500,000 and decreased overall web traffic by 40%. While the hourly cost of downtime for a small-to-medium sized business won’t be nearly as large as that astronomical Google figure, downtime is often more detrimental to smaller companies. Smaller enterprises are more susceptible to downtime and are neither large nor profitable enough to sustain its short and long-term effects. Downtime Leads to Unhappy/Unproductive Employees   Even the happiest of employees become dissatisfied when they can’t perform basic day-to-day job functions or properly service customers or clients. While someRead Full Article


Business Continuity: What Every Business Owner Should Know

Technology is full of difficult jargon. To further complicate things, certain terms are often used in a different context between one publication or service provider and the next. An example of this is the usage of backup, disaster recovery, and business continuity. These terms are commonly used interchangeably, often resulting in confusion. In an effort to alleviate some of this confusion, let’s describe each physical process. You will see an overlay among all three, although they are each different processes. Backup – In IT lingo, the most basic description of backup is the process by which your data, as in files or programs, is copied from its original location to another. The purpose of this is to ensure that the original files or programs are retrievableRead Full Article


Business Continuity for SMBs

 8 Cold Hard Truths for SMBs Not Worried About Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity   The foundation of any successful business continuity solution is the ability to retrieve data from any point in time from anywhere. When the topic of data recovery and business continuity comes up, many decision makers at smaller businesses and organizations think that they cannot afford to put enterprise-level protections into place.   Further, so many people think bad things only happen to other people. Just because we hear about a fatal car accident on the morning news, doesn’t mean we fixate on that news when we ourselves get into a car and drive to work. So no matter how many times the owner or executive of a small to midsize businessRead Full Article


The Benefits of an IT Managed Service Provider

Managed Service Providers (MSPs)  are often recommended as a cost effective IT solution for small and mid-sized businesses. For a minimal monthly fee, MSPs provide a reasonably priced solution to the complex technology pains needs of businesses. Here’s a look at the various benefits an MSP can offer your business: Freed-Up Resources and a Renewed Emphasis on Core Business – Both business owners and internal IT staff would much rather focus on revenue enhancing tasks like product development or the creation of cutting-edge applications/services. This is one reason routine monitoring and maintenance tasks are often neglected by an internal IT person or team, which always proves to be detrimental much later. Often perceived as a “threat” to an internal IT person or staff, MSPs can insteadRead Full Article


Business Continuity Versus Traditional Backup

Do you know the difference between business continuity and traditional forms of data backup? How important is it to you that your business does not lose valuable downtime and is able to be back up and running as soon as possible? If this is vital to you, then you should have a very solid business continuity plan in place. In the meantime, here are some tips to help you improve your backup plan as you phase to a more solid business continuity plan. Think Quicker Recovery Time, Not Quicker Backup – While incremental backups are much faster than executing a full backup, they also prolong recovery time. In the event of data loss, a full restore will require loading the most recent full backup and then eachRead Full Article


The Benefits of a Managed Service Provider

The benefits of partnering with a managed service provider (MSP), such as Rent-A-Nerd, Inc., are significant. The bottom line is that it is a cost-effective way to ensure that all of your business’s IT needs are met and kept up-to-date. Experienced MSPs have access to the newest tools that reduce costs by automating many routine in-house labor intensive processes. Break-fix is labor intensive (and a very outdated model), and labor is one of the most expensive operating costs within your IT infrastructure. The new innovative tools that can be provided by MSPs generate real productivity increases and mitigate the risk of network failure, downtime, and data loss from human error and disasters.   MSPs deliver a trusted foundation for your team and your clients. SomeRead Full Article


Cybersecurity: Is your Business Safe from Virtual Threats?

Did you know that 50% of small business owners think their businesses are too small to be targeted by the thieves of the virtual world? Thus, they do not believe that cybersecurity is a business concern. Contrary to popular belief, 72% of hacker attacks happen to smaller firms – firms with fewer than 100 employees! So how prepared is your SMB? Here’s a checklist to help you find out how vulnerable you are to these attacks.   1. Do you have Antivirus protection? An antivirus software program can help protect you from threats that originate from emails such as malware and virus attacks. However, the most striking fact is that 61% of small businesses don’t install any antivirus software. If you are one of them,Read Full Article


Is That Email a Phishing Scheme?

Research has revealed that over half of all users end up opening fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances (or your business and its finances). The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader. Here are a few tips that help you identify whether that email really came from your bank or is another attempt at defrauding you via a phishing email. 1. They are asking for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personalRead Full Article


Computer Network Management and Maintenance

Rent-A-Nerd, Inc.’s co-owners, Charlotte and Darrin Piotrowski, published an article, “Don’t Wait Until It’s Broken,” in the September 2015 issue of Biz New Orleans (and also included in email blast and the Biz New Orleans online issue). In it, they discussed the many reasons why every business should have a computer network management and maintenance contract with a local IT firm, rather than simply calling their computer repair company every time something breaks or isn’t working properly. Here’s the link to the full article. Below is the top ten list of reasons, taken from the article, for contracting with Rent-A-Nerd, Inc. for your business’s computer network management and maintenance. Top 10 benefits of network/computer management and maintenance: 1 – You can truly think of your IT serviceRead Full Article


Prepare Your Business in Case of Disaster

You probably have a plan for your home in the case of a disaster, but what about your business? According to the Insurance Information Institute, as many as 40% of businesses fail after a disaster. There are a number of things that you can do in order to prepare your business in case of disaster (man-made or natural). And, since we are in the midst of hurricane season, now is as good a time as any to do so! You should begin by assessing what types of disasters are most likely to occur to your specific business. This can include fire, flooding, a hurricane, and even criminal activity, depending upon your location, type of business, and other factors. You should select point people who are trained toRead Full Article


Two-Factor Authentication: Security for Your Valuable Data

Two-factor authentication is an extra step that one takes when logging in to various sites and programs. It happens after the username and password have been entered. I know what you’re thinking, passwords are difficult enough. However, many times. in order to make it convenient to remember, we use the same password for nearly all websites (which I would never recommend) or we make simple passwords that are easily guessed, i.e. password, password 123. What two-factor authentication does is add an extra layer of security on top of those passwords, no matter how simple or complex they are, in order to further protect your information online. A quick and easy way to describe two-factor authentication is to think of when you call your bank’s customerRead Full Article


Top Ten Tech Tips

Here are my top ten tech tips (for today!): 1)      When in doubt, REBOOT.   Rebooting, not only computers, but a number of electronic devices, fixes numerous issues. For example: Windows is “running slowly” possibly means that a program may be misbehaving and hogging vital system resources; rebooting the computer can often times resolve that issue.  Another common example is when your “Internet is down;” rebooting your networking equipment (modem and router) can sometimes resolve this issue.  Unplugging your modem/router from power and plugging it back in is a common solution for a number of networking issues. 2)      If you don’t know the sender of an email DO NOT CLICK THE LINKS OR DOWNLOAD ANY ATTACHMENTS!   Bogus emails are one of the number one waysRead Full Article


How did I get this computer virus??

“How’d I get this computer virus?” I think the question I get asked more often than any other is “how did that virus get on my computer?”  And most of the time I have to answer that I don’t know.  This is because tracing the source of an infection is often a very time consuming process.  Sometimes it is obvious, but most of the time it isn’t and can easily take me an hour or more to locate the source.  Most people don’t want to spend the money having me search in vain for the chance that I may figure out what caused the exact infection when I can just get rid of them all and be done with it. That being said, there areRead Full Article


Kevin Lee’s Lifehacker Blog: Four Methods to Create a Secure Password You’ll Actually Remember

NOTE: This blog originally appeared elsewhere, and was repeated on www.Lifehacker.com.  The Nerds thought our readers would benefit from this information.  It is copied in its entirety below. How do you balance the necessity of highly secure passwords with the utility of easily recalling them all? The only secure password is one that you can’t remember, but there are times when you can’t use a password manager and need to rely on your memory. This post originally appeared on the Buffer blog. It’s a question I mull each and every time a security breach happens. When the Heartbleed vulnerability was discovered last spring, the mandate was for everyone to change all their passwords right away. It’s still on my to-do list. I cringe at the thought ofRead Full Article


Computer Repair Versus Network and Computer Maintenance

The average small business spends 6.4% of its revenue on technology.  That may not surprise you, but did you know 80% of the cost comes after the initial purchase?  Clearly, acquiring new technology isn’t nearly as expensive as keeping it performing well.  Shouldn’t your IT systems be an investment for business growth, rather than a drag on profitability? Traditionally, business owners would call a computer repair technician only when there were problems; in other words, a computer–or the entire network of computers–breaks, a technician fixes it until something within the network breaks again.  We now know that it is much less expensive, for many reasons, to simply maintain computer networks on an ongoing basis.  The old way is often called the “break/fix” method, whereas modernRead Full Article


Avoiding Computer Hackers

We all use email as a primary source of communication on a daily basis–for business and personal use. Every day our in-boxes are bombarded with SPAM and advertisements. Some of these emails are legitimate, but some are phishing emails. Phishing emails are designed to steal your password, bank information, credit card information and other personal data from your computer. How can you tell if a message is a scam or legitimate? Here are a few tips to follow in order to avoid having your computer hacked  through these types of emails. Bad spelling and grammar – Hackers are great at coming up with ways to steal, but they aren’t so great at proofreading. If the message contains a misspelled word or poor grammar, it mayRead Full Article